Hey it's 4/20! What does that mean? It's international Record Store Day! Well for some its also Cannabis Culture Day but for us music heads this is our day! Bands and independent record stores around the world release rarity and limited edition vinyl for the masses to fight over, in many cases maybe one copy a store! Today I headed up to my favorite record store, for what seems like close to 30 years, West Seattle's Easy Street Records and the wife Stephanie headed to my other little favorite record store Hi-Voltage in Tacoma. Yeah we had a little list each of what we wanted and didn't really succeed at all, especially with the expanded 2-LP Mad Season Record Store Day release. That's okay I scored 2 copies of the Mad Season "River of Deceit" 10" red vinyl LP last year on Record Store Day.
This year Stephanie got David Bowie's "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" 7" for Record Store Day and a used picture disk find of her favorite punk band, D.O.A's Bloodied But Unbowed. She also found me 1 of the 1000 Testament 7" picture disks featuring them doing covers of the Scorpions "Animal Magnetism" and Iron Maiden's "Powerslave" at Hi-Voltage Records! My big find was by my favorite musician on the planet with Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and his RSD exclusive picture disks. This release features the demo versions of two tracks from Wilson’s latest solo album The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) – the songs "Luminol" and "The Watchmaker". These demo versions have never been available on vinyl before and were pressed on a heavyweight (180g) picture disc! Super cool collectable stuff this day brings for us music heads on Record Store Day!
Mike McCready and Barrett Martin of Mad Season were at Easy Street Records signing copies of the their special LP too! That was awesome to see the turnout around the block and in the store! Vinyl sounds soooooooo much better than CD's or crappy MP3's! Miss the good old days of sitting for hours staring at album artwork, listening to the album and enjoying music while cataloging my library of albums. You can put that iTunes in your pipe and toke it! Nothing will ever beat vinyl in sound or joy of having it in your hands! Support your local record/music stores year around! - Iron Mike
20 of us local music photographers picked our favorite photo to exhibit. You vote in-person for the best shot through April at the Triple Door's Musicquarium Lounge. Winners announced first week in May. Check out some great concert prints in 16x20 frames, vote and have a drink or two with some food at this great hangout! Triple Door - 216 Union Street - Seattle, WA 98101. Thanks for any shameless plugging, Facebook sharing, Twitter sending to help in getting bodies down there to vote for my Duff McKagan (#20) crowd surfing shot in the Key Arena or any other photo that excites ya! Who will be the 2013 Rocktographer of the year? For more on the story behind my photo see my recent KISW blog: http://www.kisw.com/Duff-McKagan---A-Punks-Revue---Show-Experience/11281418?pid=305901
Well if you were one of the lucky 50+ KISW listeners that won their way into this secret private acoustic event with Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd you left with one big smile! How often can ya say you went and saw Soundgarden do 5 song acoustic set and met the guys for your lunch break? That's exactly what happened today courtesy of KISW 99.9FM at the new, incredible 1920's, prohibition inspired, Aston Manor Social Club in the Sodo district.
All the lucky patrons had a drink or two awaiting the performance. No one knew exactly where it would be taking place inside the venue. Little did they know we all had to sneak through a huge secret entrance hidden in a book case. Being escorted through the doorway by Ryan, I felt like I was leaving the building and going into the secret Batcave. Ya know I had to yell like Robin "Holy Soundgarden Batman!" as Chris and Ben started soundcheck in this magnificent room!
After soundcheck, all the KISW winners were let into the room and the mighty Jolene laid the hammer down with her announcement - no cell phones, cameras, etc. for the show. Guess that was my job ;) She introduced the guys and Chris & Ben made their way to the stage to perform an awesome 5-song acoustic set that included: "Burden In My Hand", "Halfway There", "Black Hole Sun", "Black Saturday" & "Fell On Black Days". Chris sounded amazing. He didn't have to compete vocally with the usual barage of guitars and drums. Ben's monstrous low end groove complemented Chris' acoustic and vocals.
After the set was over, Chris & Ben met all the KISW winners, signed their badges and then off they went. it was great to see them both.
Tuesday night, Duff McKagan’s performance/spoken word show, “It's So Easy & Other Lies, A Punk’s Revue” returned to Seattle for one mega special night. What was different about this one? It was the fifth time Duff & friends have played this intimate format and as part of the film, they shot the show for an upcoming movie documentary based on his best-selling autobiography "It's So Easy and Other Lies."
The night featured an amazing multi-media exploration through Duff ‘s life and career told through excerpts from the book, musical accompaniments, performances and imagery. Seattle area musicians and long time friends of Duff accompanied him through this spoken word journey. His usual Loaded band mates Jeff Rouse, Mike Squires and Burke Thomas, local pedal slide guitar wiz Paul Hutzler, guitarist Jeff Fielder and the string quartet consisting of Danah Olivetree, Seth May-Patterson, Andrew D.B. Joslyn and Alina To. Special guest Mike McCready from Pearl Jam also appeared at the end of the show.
Duff's book "It's So Easy (And Other Lies)", which came out October 4, 2011, has sold over 200,000 copies. California film company Rainstorm Entertainment is handling this documentary based on the life of this former Guns N’ Roses bassist which (along with this performance) include interviews with all of his closest friends and colleagues including world renowned musicians such as Mick Jagger, Slash, Elton John and film-makers such as James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name a few. Christopher Duddy (“Cougar Club”) will direct and produce along with Steven G. Kaplan for Rainstorm and McKagan.
Duff shares his story of excess, angst, struggle and triumph detailing his rise to the outer limits of fame and fortune to his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction. He details his personal crash and burn, his immaculate turnaround to sobriety and to his success as business man and most importantly loving husband and father. Imagine sitting in front of a huge audience of fans, wife, kids, family and friends in attendance and there you are opening up about your whole life of incredible highs, near death lows and everything in between. As you could imagine, Duff's emotions were all over the place during the performance. From the photos I took documenting the show, you don't even have to have subtitles to explain the emotions you'll feel just viewing them. (see show photos here)
It takes big balls to do what Duff did. Such a big production, such courage to open up about his life. But it makes sense for McKagan to do his self-therapy this way. The show was one fantastic, smooth and moving event. From the ambiance, the amazing music arrangements, the perfect visuals on screen all coordinating with Duff's words. As an audience member, you went through his whole roller coaster of emotions along with him. For myself, I actually came crashing down with joy when towards the end of the production my Duff crowd surfing photo came onto the screen and stayed displayed for the last 10+ minutes of the show. The moment became very powerful when I saw Duff look up where I was and gave a salute. Just a very powerful moment for me and I have to proudly admit, some tears of joy.
As a photographer, you always try to capture emotion and powerful moments without the need of explanation. That night (12/16/11), in the sold-out Seattle Key Arena, Duff and his band Loaded did something unthinkable to some people and actually opened for his former band Guns N' Roses. I knew it was gonna be a special moment and from all the press photographers on hand (from in and out of town) they did too. What was explained to all the photographers before the show was 3-songs and out, except for me. I knew this moment was huge and I had to deliver but how? This was Duff's night! This was Duff conquering all the demons from his past and into all the goodness that keeps him straight in his life with his true loves - his wife Susan Holmes and their daughters Grace and Mae Marie. This show was a full circle in his life and career and to be allowed to be the only photographer per Duff to shoot the whole show, I was waiting for something that would go down in his documented history and boy did it come! Like a baptism with the hometown fans, Duff left the stage and with guitar in hand went to the fans and crowd surfed while playing. Lucky I always shoot with two camera bodies and one had my 16mm fisheye on it. The moment came and within a blink of an eye Duff's conquering moment captured!
Who knew a little over a year later the shot would still have a powerful impact on him. Especially something so close and personal in his life, this show event at the Moore Theatre. As the show ended with the whole cast of stage members giving thanks and that photo still in the background is something I will never forget and always be thankful to one of the greatest, inspirational and luckiest living rock stars we know here in Seattle with Michael "Duff" McKagan. Thanks for showing us anything in life is achievable, even at the bottom of the barrel! I walked out of the Moore with even more respect for a man that has given us a lifetime worth of rock music and still going strong with his band Loaded.
A day after the Moore event, Duff sent out a Twitter message that I'll never forget. I can't express the appreciation and validation, especially since I recently quit my day job to do music photo documentation full-time.
To view (and vote for) my Duff crowd surfing shot in the 2013 Rocktographer contest at the Triple Door in Seattle, join us for the opening night party in the Musicquarium from 5-7pm (21+) April 4th! The contest voting lasts for a month. Metallic prints are available to order. I hope to see ya there and remember to vote for me/Duff! More event info HERE.
Last year, we were on one of the last flights out of snowy Seattle and had to fly from Seattle to Denver and finally to Orange County. This year, we made it to media day!
Thanks to NAMM for having a pretty good rental car promo code for a compact or larger car. I thought that would pretty much guarantee us a compact – WRONG. The car company translates compact or larger to whatever they have most on their lot when we arrive. Stef – our designated California driver – was living the dream in a Ford Crown Vic. You got that right...Streets of San Francisco riding in Anaheim!
We got to parking lot 1, made our way over to the Hilton to get our NAMM badges and headed into the Anaheim Convention Center. We walked into the press room just in time to catch Tara Busch’s demonstration of the Stylophone S2. I love the Stylophone and Stef really liked the British Flag version.
Then Peavey Electronics announced and demonstrated their new Vypyr VIP amplifier. This amp is the first one that will actually work for acoustic, electric and bass guitars with the turn of a switch. Mr. Alex Skolnick of Testament and the Alex Skolnick Trio demonstrated each guitar type for us. This is a great amp for you musicians that want to consolidate your gear but not lose anything sound wise in the process.
Next up – Grover Jackson (yes, the Grover Jackson of Jackson/Charvel fame) and his new guitar line, the GJ2. Tom Dumont of No Doubt has been road testing the prototype of the new Zora guitar and actually had the prototype on hand to compare next to the production version of the guitar. Tom did a little demo for us on the production model. Currently the guitar body and the Jabanero Pickups are made in house with plans to expand the rest of the parts being made in house as well. The other guitar debuted by Grover Jackson was the Glendora model.
Dean Guitars’ Curse Mackey introduced Dave Mustaine and his new double neck signature guitar. Dave was pretty entertaining and even handed the guitar to one of our friends to test the weight after she asked him how heavy it was. He did some posing with it, but we weren’t treated to a demo. I saw Mustaine the first time he played his prototype live back on 4/26/11 at The Big 4 in Indio, CA (see photo below).
We headed out of the demo area and started to see some of the preview booths. We came upon Alex Skolnick having a little jam session with Malcolm Turner(bass) & Jon Barnes(trumpet). Alex was using the new John Lennon amps from Fargen. There are 2 versions, white and black, and a couple of artwork versions currently. The white amps are very limited production and will retail for $5K. There are 11 in each artwork being made and Yoko Ono will be getting one of each which leaves 10 of each for sale. The black amp will be the production version and retail for $2700.
Lanakai will be releasing ukuleles this year with a USB port. They can be hooked right into your computer for recording.
We found the AlphaSphere and immediately thought of our kids fighting over it. It’s like an electric drum synth in a big sphere with LED lights in the middle for a little atmosphere.
If you are into woodwinds, we saw the most updated piccolo I had ever seen. Instead of round hole covers, they were square. Made by Powell Sonaré, Stef was over there asking questions for quite awhile. She said the demonstrator had a bit of an adjustment period but the square covers also had a bit of a cradle to them so the fingers set in them nicely.
Back over to the stage for NAMM President Joe Lamond and former New York Yankee/Latin Grammy nominee Bernie Williams having a chat about the importance of music education.
To end the Media Day presentations Muse Research's Bryan Lanser, Vice President of Business Development, introduced the incredible Receptor VIP. A road-worthy plug-in player used by just about everyone in the music business you know that want to bring their sounds from the studio to live situations. Check out the video courtesty of Skinny Music TV on the presentation. Amazing!
Time to check into the hotel and make our way over to Disneyland for a little relaxation before the next 4 days of The NAMM Show!!
With a little help from my famous metal bassist friend David Ellefson (Megadeth), we headed over to the Aria Guitar section at NAMM to see the revealing of the Aria Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass. We didn't have much time since both of us had to get back upstairs to the Samson booth for David's autograph signing, but we had enough time to record a quick video and also get some photos of the bass and with Cliff's dad Ray. Cliff Burton was Metallica's bassist for their first three groundbreaking albums, Kill 'Em All, Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets. Cliff died on September 26, 1986 in a tour bus accident (watch story here) but his legacy and style of playing bass live on even to this day. His famous bass solos featuring a Morley Wah pedal (along with a Big Muff Distortion) were inspirational to millions of Metallica and metal fans around the world (see solo video with original Aria bass).
Check out this video I recorded with David Ellefson introducing the new Aria Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass replica for the first time (view exclusive video here) at NAMM '13!
For the official bass press release with spec info please click here!
Now let's have Megadeth's bass man David Ellefson talk about his new Jackson Signature Kellybird coming out soon!
Check out the two videos below. This bass is so cool looking! I was lucky enough to have shot David live last year with his prototype.
Keep up-to-date on the latest Jackson guitar/bass news and this Ellefson Signature model release at: http://www.jacksonguitars.com
We're gonna have all kinds of cool stuff to report on from NAMM 2013!!! Today was a pretty amazing day with all the rock/metal stars at the and cool new products ya might be interested in if you're in a band! Too bad the media room wireless crashed on us all so no remote updates. It'll be better to soak all this stuff in and then report next week on everything we've seen and who we've been hanging out with! We got VIP passes to Shinedown at the Dean Guitars NAMM Jam tonight so off we go! Been non stop! Here's some sample pics for now...keep checking my blog the next days!
Iron Mike (& my sidekick Robin..I mean wife Stephanie ha ha)
One of the most anticipated rock albums and tours for 2013 gives us a little sample of what's to come. Alice In Chains released their "Hollow" Instagram Fan Lyric Video this morning on YouTube! Song available for download 1/8/13, new album Spring 2013. Keep up-to-date with AIC online at: http://www.AliceinChains.com & https://www.Facebook.com/AliceinChains
Also listen to your radio in Seattle on KISW 99.9FM for it being played (Ryan Castle debuted it this morning) and KISW streaming online !
If you missed the SOLD-OUT Walking Papers show last night no worries! I caught the EPIC special guest guitarist of the night. Usually Mike McCready plays with the Walking Papers (as he did on the Walking Papers debut CD and at KISW's Pain in the Grass 2012) but last night he was gone so the band pulled a BIG surprise! Alice in Chain's Jerry Cantrell jumped onstage and jammed the dark heavy Walking Papers classics "Your Secret is Safe With Me" & "Two Tickets" at the Crocodile Cafe. Check out the videos below and go check out the band online and buy the killer debut CD http://www.thewalkingpapers.org
Seattle, don't forget this Sunday Swiss New Wave of Folk Metal pioneers Eluveitie play El Corazon! This KISW Metal Shop sponsored show is gonna be epic! Also on the bill is Finland's Wintersun, an extreme progressive metal band with a new amazing album titled "Time I" (hear full album) and German Viking metallers VARG.
What's exciting about Eluveitie on this tour is they are playing their new concept CD "Helvetios" (hear full album) in it's entirety each night! Never thought a metal band with flutes, violins, hurdy-gurdies, mandola, mandolin, whistles and bagpipes could be so awesome! Add some hot chicks oozing with talent in the band and you have a dual combination of male/female diversity for the big time! "Helvetios" is one of my favorite album releases of the year. Between Chrigel Glanzmann's razor rasp and Anna Murphy's angelic vocals, there's something for every metal fan with Eluveitie! Eluveitie alsoreleased a second record this year with The Early Years, a collection of re-rerecorded and re-mastered early material.
Meet both bands at a pre-show in-store signing at Silver Platters in Northgate (Sunday, December 2nd 3 - 4 PM Silver Platters 9560 1st. Ave. NE Seattle, WA. 98115 (206) 524-3472 www.silverplatters.com)